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UP: KGMU Contract Workers on Strike Against Salary Deduction, Demands Basic Facilities

Employees said they were not paid salaries on time, while pay was deducted for public holidays. They also demanded cashless medical treatment, maternity leave and other facilities under labour laws.
KGMU protest

Lucknow: The contractual employees of the King George's Medical University (KGMU) protest outside the Trauma Center regarding alleged salary cuts, on Wednesday. Dec. 20, 2023. (PTI Photo)

Lucknow: Around 2,000 contractual workers at Kings George Medical University (KGMU) in Lucknow went on a strike on Wednesday to protest against pay cuts and delays in salary payments. The strike resulted in the closure of outpatient departments (OPD) and related services. The KGMU has launched an inquiry into the agency responsible for hiring the workers. 

Raising slogans against the hospital administration and XEAM Ventures Private Limited -- the service provider company, the agitating contractual workers gathered outside the KGMU superintendent's office and marched towards the OPD. The agitating workers accused the recruitment agency that hired them of paying them less than they were promised.

The protesting contractual workers also closed the entrance doors of the Trauma Centre, causing emergency patients to take admission entering through the back door.  

Employees said they were not paid salaries on time, while pay was deducted for public holidays. They also demanded cashless medical treatment, maternity leave and other facilities under labour laws. 

"KGMU has more contractual staff than full-time employees who are making a big contribution to its smooth functioning, but we are only given a lower salary. Instead of increasing our honorarium, our salaries are being deducted. We held multiple protests previously. Recently, in November, the KGMU university authorities, in a meeting, promised us full salary without deduction for weekly off. But I received my payment after certain deductions," said Amit, a lab technician who received Rs 8,700 as his emolument for December against the promised Rs 12,000.

Amit also accused the university authorities of not coming to work on government-declared holidays. So, there should be no deductions for those days. 

Another contract staff wishing anonymity told NewsClick, "If the KGMU is famous for its treatment, then the credit for it also goes to us for functioning smoothly, but when it comes to paying us, we always struggle for our hard-earned money. During COVID-19, the government had promised to give us an incentive amount, but it was a false promise."

The strike was called off after the workers were assured that all their pending dues would be cleared. The agency responsible for managing the workers' payroll has accepted responsibility for the salary deductions and has promised to rectify the situation.

However, Sanjay Srivastava, manager of Xeam Ventures, said: "We have assured the employees that any difference in amount based on their manual attendance approved by the respective HoDs (heads of departments) will soon be paid to them. We will ensure that this is not repeated," he said, adding that other demands of the workers will be considered and appropriate action will be taken. 

Prof Sudhir Singh, KGMU spokesperson, also assured the protesting workers to look into their demand. 

"The university hires these employees through a company, and we are committed to ensuring that the employees' issues are resolved. After a comprehensive inquiry, it was determined that Xeam Ventures, the service provider in charge of handling the payroll for contract workers, is accountable for the unintentional salary deductions," said Singh. 

Notably, around four thousand new patients visit KGMU's outpatient department a day on average. Every day, at least 500 patients are admitted to the hospital, which has 4,500 beds in total. Apart from dozens more in the diagnostic facilities in the block, at least 2,000 people were in the OPD when the flash strike was called.

Last week, health services were affected after more than a hundred outsourced employees of Kalyan Singh Super Speciality Cancer Institute and Hospital (KSSSCIH) went on strike against pay cut and an increase in honorarium and equal pay with their counterparts at Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS). 

The same XEAM Ventures Private Limited company looks after the hiring process and handles management here. 

In March, KSSSCIH nurses and paramedical staff boycotted work against the pay cut and said that it was done without prior notice.

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